Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Tasty Teaser- Badam Ka Halwa

My friend R is a big tease....she's good at heart, but she's an awful mean tease. And I can prove it. She bought a house in New York recently, and she kept talking about how picturesque her home was. It took her forever to unpack, settle down and invite us over to the new house. The minute she mentioned we come down, I packed up the family and we left. We arrived just in time for the evening chai, and as we sat there enjoying her house and her chai, with the obligatory snacks, she let out that she'd made badam ka halwa that morning for it was her hubby's b'day.

"But we're planning to go out for dinner tonight to this great restaurant that's a bit of a drive...", she said. " "So finish up the tea and lets go for dinner and we can have the badam halwa for dessert when we come back." And we left for the restaurant... without tasting her halwa.

The restaurant was as good as she'd promised it to be. The food was good too, I guess, except that my taste buds kept longing for her homemade badam halwa. Dinner over, we drive back home, me with a spring in my step and anticipation in my heart. The kids were packed off to bed, we settled down to watch a movie. The men fixed themselves a night cap....but know what. And I don't know what movie we watched or how good it was, for I have no idea......

Breakfast time, and I delicately bring up the badam halwa again. "How do you make it, R?" "Oh, it's easy", she says. "First you........", "and lets warm up some for breakfast" is all I need for the sun to rise again! Except that she gets side tracked again. as she opens up the refrigerator....."have you eaten this fruit before?", she asks. "No, what is it" I ask, with my eyes scanning the inside of her fridge for some indication of where 'IT' might be. "Let me open one up for you- it's something new we found", and she slams the fridge shut with only that fruit in her hand....If only looks could kill, R would have been dead by now.

Next, lunch. We sit down for a delicious daal-baati-churma lunch. She's a wonderful cook, no doubt. But my older one, being the picky one, kept fussing over her plate. Seeing this, the talk again meandered towards badam halwa. "I've started making it quite often", R says, "my daughter loves it, and almonds are supposed to be good for the brain". " Maybe we can get A (my daughter) to taste some", I venture with a bit (just a bit) of embarrassment at my scheming. "If she seems to like it, then I'll get the recipe from you, R". " Lets clear up the table, and I'll give her some". And I see some hope again. We clear the table, run the dishwasher, play in the yard, go grocery shopping and.........and come back home. And I crave for badam halwa for over a month, before I buckle down and experiment in my kitchen. And all the while, I can't shake the feeling that R is a terrible, mean tease..... This is how I made my badam ka halwa...I think I was kind of listening to R when she narrated the recipe to me, but can't vouch for it.

Badam kaHalwa 
(Sweet Almond Halwa/fudge) 

Almonds 2 fistfuls, soaked and peeled
Milk 1 cup + 1/4 cup
 Water 1/2 cup
Sugar 1cup
Ghee 2 tbsp
Saffron a few strands.
  1. Soak the almonds overnight or till they swell up, remove the outer brown peel. Two fistfuls of almonds swelled up to be almost 2 cups.
  2. Grind these almonds in a food processor. Us the 1/4 cup milk if required, but sparingly. The paste should not get too runny.
  3. Take a heavy bottomed pan/wok/kadai and melt the ghee in it. Turn the stove to low, add the almond paste and roast for about 15 min. Stir diligently, making sure the paste doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Meanwhile, soak the saffron in about a tsp of milk, and mix 1 cup milk +1/2 cup water together.
  5. As the almond paste starts to ball up, add the milk-water mixture and sugar to it, and keep stirring.
  6. Keep a close eye, turn up the heat a bit, and stir till the liquid volume reduces. Add the saffron, give a last stir and turn off the heat.
My two cents: R is a terrible mean tease...have I already told you that? But the badam halwa was so good. It was little on the "low-sugar" side- you can add more if you like. And a warning- you have to be really good about keeping the flame low and stirring it. The almond paste likes to stick - evidence is in the brown flecks that you see in my picture. No brown allowed, should be the policy. My brown flecks didn't seem to affect the taste, but I wouldn't know- right R? PS: All characters and incidents in this post are entirely non-fictional. I may have taken liberties narrating some incidences to you, but what the h***. R is such a mean tease, she deserves it...;))
Wishing you all a very HAPPY DIWALI.

Linking this to MMK-Indian Mithai Mela @ Kalyanis